President: Sony made a mistake

Sony Pictures "made a mistake" by pulling its controversial film "The Interview" from theaters, President Obama said Friday.

The president said the decision set a dangerous precedent, and he added that he wished the motion picture company had spoken to him first before making its decision.

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“We can’t start changing our patterns of behavior ... because there might be a terrorist attack,” Obama said.

"That's not who we are," Obama said. "That's not what America's about."

Sony pulled the comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid threats from hackers warning of a Sept. 11-style attack against American moviegoers who went to see the film.

"Imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don't like or news reports they don't like," Obama said about foreign leaders who could mount such cyberattacks. "Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended."

Obama said that if Sony had approached the White House before making its decision, he would have advised them to go forward with the movie.

"I wish they had spoken to me first I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated," he said.
 
At the same time, he acknowledged the company's worried about liability.
 
"Sony is a corporation. it suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns they face," he said.

Sony also fell victim to a massive cyberattack, which the FBI on Friday linked to North Korea. The hackers have released embarassing e-mails between Sony executives as well as films the company had been preparing for release.

Obama said the fact that North Korea decided to attack a studio over a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco said a lot about the regime.

"I love Seth and I love James, but the notion that was a threat to them gives you some sense of what kind of regime we're talking about here," he said.

And Obama vowed the U.S. would retaliate for the attack.

"We will respond," Obama said. "We will respond proportionally, and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose."

White House aides said Obama had been briefed about the attack throughout the week, and that the administration was treating it as a "legitimate national security matter."